Thu, 19 May 2022

SUVA, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Fifty-one Fijian military personnel flew out to Australia's Brisbane on Saturday morning for a co-deployment mission to Tonga which was hit by the volcanic eruptions of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano last weekend.

Fijian military Commander Major-General Ro Jone Kalouniwai said on Saturday that the Fijian military personnel, consisting of engineers, medics and other specialists, will team up with the Australian soldiers to carry out rehabilitation and further assessment in Tonga.

As per the initial planning process, the Fijian soldiers are expected to be on the ground, putting the hard yards, in a span of 10 days. However, this is subject to change depending on the extent of rehabilitation required in the island nation, he added.

The commander stressed that the majority of troops deployed are engineers and plant operators, considering the massive infrastructure damage in most parts of Tonga.

The Fijian military personnel have completed their pre-departure isolation period in their respective bubble and have tested COVID-19 free before departure. They were also fully vaccinated with a booster shot.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, about 65 km north of Tongan capital city of Nuku'alofa, is part of the highly active Tonga-Kermadec Islands volcanic arc, a subduction zone extending from New Zealand north-northeast to Fiji.

Over the past decades, the volcano has erupted several times. The eruptions on Jan. 14 and Jan. 15 have caused three deaths and multiple injures, which are likely to rise in the days to come.

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